Thursday, November 17, 2011

I'm a Flashlight!

One of the greatest inventions of our modern times for me is the flashlight. We've humans have upgraded tremendously from torches, candles and lanterns in order to successfully navigate in the dark. We're a race dependent on our five senses - mostly on our sight - in order to make our way around this celestial orb.

I've learned something about the flashlight this morning that I didn't comprehend the day before. It's not like the information is new; only a new revelation to me.

It's not the casing of the flashlight that gives it its importance and purpose - though the outer shell is extremely important in its function to house the thing that makes it valuable and of use. It's the light that emits from the flashlight that gives it it's purpose.

Understanding the above statement has sparked an enlightened revelation that I had never been able to construct with words. I'm a flashlight!

Most of us go through this life with a hope of what the next life will bring; bearing the burdens of our world, braving the elements and holding tight to our faith and beliefs until the end of our days, most often in an expectation of a reward for our sacrifices; a utopian retirement in eternity filled with golden streets and peaceful jubilation.

Deep down inside I've always had a slight problem with this sentiment. Not that I wouldn't want a golden parachute at the end of my labors in reward for my all my toil, but I couldn't seem to find the motivation to modify my current behavior in a hope of a fantastical dream. I live with a hope of obtaining that utopian fantasy in THIS life.

I know the world is full of all kinds of hate, evil and chaos. On many occasions and through different experiences, I've been the victim/perpetrator at their dubious hands. However, I've also been the giver/recipient of love, good and order. Both exist at the same time, and both continue to flow through this universe even now. The only thing that has changed has been how I respond to each when I brush against them.

I've always been told that I'm a light in a dark world - meaning that I am to expose the darkness as I allow the light of my faith to shine. As I click this flashlight on and off, I realize it's function. It's not to expose the darkness - because the dark is already apparent. When the light comes on it causes the darkness to retreat and expose the truth of what's around me, lights my path so I can see where I'm going or where I've been, and even allows me to see myself when I was unable before. However, when I came into an already lighted room, the light from my flashlight exposed nothing that wasn't already exposed before - neither path nor direction. It became useless; just another object in the room. It no longer had a purpose. What good is a flashlight where there is no darkness?

Having a purpose and being used for that purpose is what drives me most; it is the single largest factor that shapes my decisions, actions and reactions. It's not fear from a lake of fire for my disobedience or the hope of a bright utopian eternity beyond this life. Whether or not those are the final consequences - really don't make a difference in the day to day decisions I face or make.

Everyday, due to the impact of my daily decisions, I'm either tormented or at peace. Right now I'm either suffering from a hell-on-earth or I'm filled with heavenly joy. I find the choice is really up to me no matter what's going on around me. In the middle of my turmoil, I find I can have peace. In the middle of my celebration, I find I can be in pain. I can't control what happens around me - prevent evil from touching my life - but I have complete control on how I respond to those events. The response determines my atmosphere.

Where my faith factors in all this is not about condemnation or salvation at the end of my days - but in each moment, each step, with each breath that testifies I'm not alone and I don't have to walk through this darkness alone. The answer to the test isn't that I finish having ran a good race, but that I find what I'm searching for AS I run the race; that I discover I'm a flashlight in a dark world - with a purpose while I'm in the darkness.

I don't mind being a flashlight. In fact - I'd like to be a lighthouse!

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray